Have some mini reviews:
This is an extremely mini review, as I’ve not actually sat down to watch an entire episode, even as they keep accumulating on my DVR. As I said before, I don’t usually watch Space Operas, not because I consider them uninteresting, but because I usually don’t have time, and just end up missing the entire series. The same thing happened here, with The Expanse. I also haven’t read any of the books in the series by James Corey, so I don’t know how close a resemblance the show has to those. I have to confess I’ve only watched the trailers and a few snippets. I certainly like what I see and the show is blowing it up on the diversity front. The show has not neglected to round out the cast with Latinxs, Black people, and different Asians. So if that’s important for you, then check it out.
The character in the photo above is the six foot tall, New Zealander, Frankie Adams who plays the bad ass Bobbie Draper, and already she’s my favorite character, even though I’ve seen nothing more than snippets of her scenes. If you liked Vasquez from the movie Aliens, you will love Bobbie, who is continuing that grand tradition of having bad ass, WoC warriors in space.
The show appears to have improved quite a bit since that first season. At some point I going to need to sit down and binge the Hell out of this show, and give a more in depth review.
This is the first episode of the second season and I remain mostly unimpressed. It’s not that it’s a bad show, because there’s plenty in it for the discerning viewer, it’s just that it has several competing tones, which can be kind of jarring if that’s not something you’re used to. On the one hand the show wants to have a lighthearted, jokey, bantering feel, most especially in the scenes where Elliot, Margot, Penny, Quentin and Alice are in Fillory, a fairytale world mentioned prominently in season one, and the real world travails of Quentin’s friend Julia, who got kicked out of Brakebills last season, and had been fumbling to get back into the magical community, ever since.
Julia’s storyline is dark, depressing ,and unnerving, as she seems to spend the majority of her time being sexually, and emotionally abused, and belittled by various characters. Last season, she was emotionally manipulated by a Hedge witch named Marina, and raped by a creature she thought was a god, after she joined a cult. This season, the person trying to both sexually, and emotionally abuse her, is named The Beast. With a name like that you would have to be a complete jackass to trust him, nevertheless, I wish we got to see a lot less of him. (As with all TV villains, he thinks he’s pretty charming, and talks too damned much.)
There’s also a third thread where we keep flipping back and forth, from Fillory to Brakebills, as Quentin, Margot, and Alice, investigate what’s happening in Fillory with Dean Fogg, and that’s confusing and doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the episode.
You cannot have this rather casual and jokey attitude sitting side by side with the constant degradation of this other character. It just makes the whole show feel bad. Julia seems like she’s in another show entirely. I’m not sure where they’re going with her storyline, but I wish it wasn’t. Its distracting from what is otherwise a mildly entertaining show about magic.
In the first season, we spent our time establishing various characters, and setting up for season two. This second season is going to be more like the second book in the series, called The Magician’s Land, where the four major characters become the Kings and Queens of Fillory, except for Penny who doesn’t get a crown. I was mildly peeved by this. Even though Penny is still an asshole, I feel he deserves a crown too, and why was the lone character of color left out of it.
The show gets LGBT representation right in Elliot, but gets a black hashmark for killing off all the other gay characters (including the lone Black woman, this show has ever had, in season one). It also gets a demerit for making the one PoC a complete arsehole (Penny), and the other PoC is the Dean of the school. Putting the lone Black person in charge of giving orders, is a trope a show adds when it wants to have diversity, but has no clue how to write characters of color.
There were some things I enjoyed, though. I liked some of the humor. The idea that they could only win their crowns by passing some elaborate tests, only for the tests to turn about to be 90’s pop culture trivia questions, was pretty funny. And of course, I love Elliot, who is always saying the absolutely correct things, at the correct times. He’s the best written character on the show. Snarky and intelligent, but vulnerable, when he needs to be. Quentin has improved since last season, becoming more sure of himself, but I credit the actor for that, not the writers.
Like I said, its not a bad show, and there’s something in it worth watching for the casual viewer, but the tone of the show is wildly uneven, as it swings between humor, and sexual violence, and I don’t like that.
Well, I watched two episodes of this show and I think I understand whats going on, or at least what the creators are trying to do, while also trying to have a plot. The first episode may appear to be plot free, but it does have one. The title character has been institutionalized for attempting to commit suicide. While there, he’s diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoia. I don’t know how accurate the depiction of 1960’s mental institutions is, but I didn’t have a problem with the depiction, outside of the usual tropes of “crazy patients”, in the background.
While David is there, he meets a pretty blond girl, that he falls in love with, while he’s being hunted by some type of clandestine Federal organization that wants to study him, because they believe he’s a powerful mutant. This entire plot takes two episodes to resolve because we keep taking detours into David’s mind, as he hallucinates, imagines scenarios, or just remembers things. We spend a lot of time in David’s mind and I think the purpose is to make the audience feel as disoriented about the things happening to him, as David feels. It certainly is a different approach to a Marvel character.
Now, in the comic books, David is the son of Charles Xavier and Moira McTaggert(?) and is the most powerful telepathic being on Earth, more powerful than his father, which is why he spent the early part of his life in a vegetative state, unable to cope with his abilities. In all fairness, I haven’t read about this character in a very long time, so I’m sure he’s gone through a bunch of reiterations since the 9os.
I was reluctant to approach this show. I generally avoid shows that involve blatant displays of mental illness, especially after my own bout with mental illness in my twenties (which has since been in a kind of remission), but the fear that that state of mind could reoccur, is always present, especially when watching shows where mental illness is heavily featured. I went through some very, very rough times , and don’t like to be reminded of one of the worse periods of my life.
The closer the TV depiction of mental illness is to reality, the more I dislike it, and I was expecting to dislike this show, but it turned out to be not that bad. At least not for me, but if you’re a person currently going through some mental shit, you might want to use caution, when watching this. A lot of the show’s visuals are very disorienting. I don’t know that I’ll make regular viewing of it, but I don’t dislike the show. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s visually spectacular.
Actually this is a very interesting show, in its second season. Yes, it’s about sentient robots, but that’s where the comparison, between it and Westworld, end. This British show takes place in the real world, and recounts how humans and robots interact, as robots begin to displace human beings from working life, and how that interaction is unsettled, when some of the robots start to become self aware.
In the first season, we followed a group of self aware robots (Niska, Mia, Leo, and Max) who’d been split up and were trying to find each other. They’d all been created by the same man, now long dead. This season, one of the robots (Niska) uploads their self-awareness code into a system that all of the robots (called Synths) have to occasionally link to, and more of them become aware. Now they have to deal with not just this new awareness, but what kind of relationships do they want to have with humans.
The show also deals with the fallout for the Hawkins family’s interaction with Leo and his family, last season. How does this affect them? What do the children think? How does their interaction with self aware robots affect their future, and will the government find out they were involved? Added to that, the Hawkins parents are still in therapy, dealing with the husband’s brief infidelity with Mia, something I found to be deeply interesting. Did he or did he not cheat on his wife, and how does she process what he did, when he says it didn’t mean anything.?
There are several threads we follow through the episode. We follow Niska, who is investigating human love, as she picks up a girl at a nightclub, and goes on trial for killing a man. I still don’t see how she can get away with appearing human because she doesn’t talk or move like one. Why the humans don’t see it, is one of the show’s bigger mysteries.
There’s a secondary story involving a Dr. Morrow played by Carrie-Ann Moss (from Daredevil). She’s investigating how and why the Synths have become aware, and what they want. At some point during the season she will meet up with the more militant Niska.
There’s a third storyline involving Detective Karen Voss, who is also a Synth married to, and masquerading as a human. Its interesting because her husband knows what she is and still loves her anyway. She in turn appears to be very much in love with him, too. There’s also Hester, a newly sentient Synth, who is still discovering who and what she is.
This show is a lot less action packed than Westworld, and asks different types of questions on the nature of sentience. Its more thoughtful, and philosophical, and states its ideas much more blatantly. There are certainly fewer shootouts. There are also more PoC, but the narrative doesn’t explore that particular angle, in depth. Its mostly left for the viewer to suss out how race relations work in a society where robot servants look like any race of people. Do the robots of color get abused, or exploited more, I wonder? I’m still trying to figure out whose idea was it to make them so human-looking, and why. The Synths don’t behave like humans, though. They speak and behave smoothly, stiffly, and slowly, so its fairly easy to tell they’re not human.
I don’t even know how to describe this show anymore, as it has gone completely off the deep end, with wild things happening in every episode. But this week’s episode was actually refreshing in that James Delaney’s enemies have finally caught up with him and brought him low. From the jump, James has been three steps ahead of everyone but this episode proves he’s at least not invulnerable or omniscient.
There’s also the added factor that he seems deeply fascinating to many of the women in the narrative. From the little mulatto girl who thinks he’s going to take her to America, to the actress that lives with him and pines for his attention, to his own half-sister Zilpha who, in a fit of cold rage, just killed her boozy, abusive husband.
Zilpha arrives at James house, in the middle of the night, and says she did just as he asked her to do. Since we’ve never heard James express any such sentiment, its no wonder he begins to question her sanity, and if so, is it his fault, although this doesn’t stop the two of them from getting their freak on, after her husband’s funeral. Its not meant to last however, as James, hallucinating that his mother is drowning him, tries to choke Zilpha.
There’s a new player in town, an African man named Chichester, and he’s asking questions about the ship that sank with all hands, but from which James conveniently escaped. This is a character who pulls no punches, as he blatantly taunts the Company men, reminding them at every opportunity that he was once a slave. His investigations into the East India Company’s illegal slave trade prompts them to attack James by burning his newly bought boat. There’s also the matter of some stolen gunpowder that James is attempting to sell to the Americans. So now James has plenty of goods to sell but no way to reach America to sell it.
Brace, James’ houseman, tries to tell him that James’ mother was no saint, but James ain’t hearing none of that, although he does keep having flashbacks to images of his mother trying to drown him. As the tension between all these characters ratchets up, James is starting to lose it, too. He becomes even darker and more violent, biting out a man’s tongue for betraying him, which is saying something, when you consider that, in an earlier episode, he ate part of a guy and cut off another man’s finger. He’s having more hallucinations, too. Is he succumbing to the madness that claimed his father, and that he thinks is claiming his sister?
Later, after recovering from a drunken stupor, he discovers the drowned body of Winter. Did he do this? Is it a setup? We’ll find out. We’ve got two more episodes left and I’ll have a full rundown on the finale when it airs.
On a more personal note:
I’m still very fatigued, although a lot less fatigued than I was at the start of the year. Its become my habit to go to bed as early as possible now, which means that a lot of these shows sit on my DVR until the weekend, and that’s what happened with The Expanse and Ash Vs. The Evil Dead. Also, there have been so many new shows, and season premieres, that its just hard to keep up with all of them. I’ve limited myself to reviewing the pilots and premieres only, except for those shows I’ve already been reviewing, like Supernatural, and The Walking Dead.
In March I’ll be reviewing the return of Samurai Jack, in its fifth season; Iron Fist, which I’m not especially enthused about, but hey!, I managed to sit thorough half of Jessica Jones, so how bad could it be; and the return of Into the Badlands, which I will review in the entirety of its second season.